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Game review: Runebound Unbreakable Bonds is a cooperative fantasy adventure expansion

The fantasy adventure game Runebound invites gamers to take on the roles of fantasy heroes and explore the lands of Terrinoth. Players fight monsters, gain skills, buy equipment and work through the goals for completing an overarching scenario.

The Runebound board game experience has been one of competition. The first player to complete the goals of the scenario would win. But shouldn't heroes work together to defeat evil? Yes. And now it's possible. Fantasy Flight Game's latest release in the Runebound series, Unbreakable Bonds, is a new expansion introducing both cooperative and solo play. (The Runebound base game is needed for play).

Unbreakable Bonds includes two new scenario cards as well as replacement cards for three previously released scenarios so that those can be played cooperatively. The game also allows gamers to enjoy solo play. Fantasy Flight Games listened to fans and delivered a cooperative/solo masterpiece.

A new concept in this expansion is that of forming a team or group of heroes to travel around the map board. Teams move on each player's turn, and there are also several advantages. A variety of new skills are now available that give benefits specifically for team play. For example, the skill "cover weakness" allows members of a team to take attribute tests for each other.

Another new aspect to the game is a combat board for monster attacks. Four different combat boards come with the expansion and each has its own personality. There is the mystic, warrior, savage or trickster. During combat the boards help players walk step by step through attacks to determine an enemy's damage and defense.

Runebound players will receive 30 new skill cards in this expansion as well as 20 new assets. Two brand new characters join the list of heroes, too. There is Titianna the master huntress and Eliam the elf swordsman.

The addition of 10 event cards adds some variability and story elements to the game. These cards are mixed in with market assets and affect the game when drawn. For example, the event card "secret wares" adds four additional items to the market for purchase. The cost is that a player loses a turn.

Gamers should note that because this expansion covers cooperative play, the threats have increased in difficulty as well. From one to four players can participate, and the rules are adjustable for each player count.

It's important to note that Runebound third edition contains one of the coolest, unique combat mechanisms on the market. Players actually "cast runes" in combat by throwing cardboard discs onto the table. These discs represent magic, battle tactics, physical attacks and challenges. It's a lot of fun to throw them each combat turn.

Runebound Unbreakable Bonds adds a ton of extra life to the game. Fans of all types of game play can participate now. Fantasy Flight Games made a great choice in taking this game in the right direction. Cooperative and solo play widens the tent to include gamers of all stripes.

For those who own Runebound or are now intrigued by the cooperative nature of the game, Unbreakable Bonds does not disappoint. It would be the first expansion to purchase after buying the main game. To find out more about the game, go to the Runebound website.